Why do authors tend to go off on the deep end when it comes to one starred reviews? And do you think that giving an author anything less than a three star rating is considered bullying? - From Anonymous
I'm going to try to answer this in two parts; the first as a writer (which I am) and the second as both a writer AND a blogger. I've been writing, first short stories, then one or two full length attempts, and finally, an ongoing YA contemporary with a friend for some time. I first started writing when I was 12, and began writing seriously, realizing it was what I WANTED to do, when I was 17. I imagine self-publishing some day, when I'm ready, and I get the heebie-jeebies and shakes. But I know I'd love to take that step.
I live my character's lives when I'm writing. I laugh and cry with them. I GO PLACES. I create these families, these dreamers, these lovers...these sparks that leap off the embers of my imagination, and they mean so much to me. They're extensions of me; they're my hopes, my creativity. In a way, every piece I write is a breath I've held, then exhaled, and watched it become what it will.
So I imagine reviews of my work. I imagine the high that would come from a positive review, and the crushing blow that would stem from a negative review. And I'm sure ALL authors, self-published, or traditionally published do the same thing.
Here's where the line is, the line that as an author, you CANNOT cross. A reviewer has ONLY their words and their thoughts JUST LIKE YOU DO.
Their word is their credibility. Their integrity is a blogger OR a writer's currency. If you attack that reviewer, if you threaten them? You have nothing. And the same goes for a reviewer if THEY mistreat an author. I think some authors toe past this line because their feelings are hurt because a negative review. They don't realize what they're doing. (If they do...that's a whole other story.) They feel like someone is insulting their creation, their baby. And that's understandable to feel that way. But you CAN'T do it, you can't take it to that level. You HAVE to detach a bit, to breathe around the hurt of knowing someone didn't like your book. You have to be graceful even under pressure.
Now for the second part of that question, which is a great one by the way!
I stopped starring books awhile ago, and chose instead to start a rating system that spoke more to how the book made me FEEL: did I love it? Just like it? Did I cry and laugh a lot? That's how I sorted my categories, though I still have categories for those books that either just weren't anything special, or that I disliked.
I think that as long as a blogger is honest and truthful in their review, WITHOUT GOING OUT OF THEIR WAY TO ANTAGONIZE AN AUTHOR, that NO rated review is bullying. As bloggers, like I said above, our words are our bond! ANY time we receive a book - be it an ARC, library book, or review request, our reviews need to be honest, never glossed or padded. I've written reviews I felt bad about receiving, but you know what? EVEN THEN, the authors in question did something amazing: they THANKED me for my review. That review meant I had at least read their book.
I saw a quote on Twitter today; I'm paraphrasing, but it basically said, "the only author who has never received a negative review is an unread author." And that's true.
So read those books. Star/rate them however YOU see fit. Be truthful. Tell the world what you liked and disliked. Try, even if it was a book you hated, to point out one thing you genuinely liked about the book, but DON'T sugar-coat it. Be true to YOUR words and YOUR thoughts. And while you're doing it...
Have a question I didn't answer? Want to know something about blogging, reading, etc? Ask me here and I'll answer ASAP!